Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Keys to the Castle

We got the keys to our new house last night. That makes us officially HOME OWNERS. How exciting and scary all at the same time. Could it be that we are finally adults? That we have finally come of age? I hope nothing breaks.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

Some Earth Day tips to keep in mind.

Snag a book from the library or a used book store and curl up by a sunny window. Take a walk or go for a bike ride. Just spend a few hours every week electricity-free. And while you’re shutting things off, consider unplugging less-used electronics, small appliances, lamps and other gadgets until needed; it reduces standby electricity loss, which means lower bills. Or group your electronics on one of the handy power strips featured below!

If all Americans viewed and paid bills online, we'd save 18.5 million trees EACH YEAR. Take time this week to switch all your bills to paperless or e-statements. Consider canceling unwanted catalog and magazine subscriptions and sign up for a junk mail monitoring service, which removes you from mass mailing lists for small fee. Your letter carrier — and local landfill — will enjoy the lighter load.

Check out these websites and help STOP the garbage

It's starting to get gorgeous outside. Get out there and take advantage of the warmer temperatures and update your landscape. Plant deciduous trees near your house. As they grow, the trees' lush leaves will shade your home from the warming sun. In winter, their bare branches let that sunlight through, which means less stress on your heating system and utility bills. Plus, more trees means cleaner air. AND-- for you composters out there... more trees means more leaves to make that rich dark compost!

Start keeping track of how much trash you generate by eating out and making trips to the store, I guarantee you'll be amazed! Yuck! All of those bags, paper and styrofoam cups, and containers really add up and are stuffing our landfills to capacity. Bring your own plastic/metal boxes to your favorite take-out joint. You'll save resources and save them money. Use reusable shopping bags whenever you go to the store. Say "No Thanks" when the pharmacist or fast food clerk tries to put your one or two items in a bag. Don't be afraid to speak up! Use reusable cups for coffee and other beverages including for soda and fountain drinks. And, reuse some of the extras at home - keep extra napkins and reuse plastic cups and cutlery.

We have actually stopped buying paper napkins at all. At Christmas when people asked me what I wanted as gifts, I requested nice, easy care CLOTH napkins. Now I have tons and they are easily washable with a regular load of laundry, look nice on my table,and surprisingly, the switch has dramatically cut down on the amount of paper towels we use as well.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Energy Saving Power Strip

Ok-- Tell me this is not cool. A power strip that knows when to work, what to work, and what to turn off. It makes saving energy easy as pie. Last year, my husband I and tried to start a normal practice of unplugging our electronic devices when they were not in use, but sadly, it turned out to be such a pain that we quickly gave up on it. Our entertainment system is one of those things that all of the cords feed together onto one power strip and then get hidden behind a huge piece of furniture making it virtually impossible to daily plug in and plug out. And then there was the TiVo issue... Ahem. How can Tivo work if it's not plugged IN?? Well, I am not sure if this answers the TiVo dilemma, but it certainly is ingenious for everything else. I want one for every room in the house-- it would even be great for our computer set up-- printer, scanner, computer. All linked together!

From the Manufacturer:
Ten outlets work together, auto switching your devices on/off automatically, to save you money on your electric bills. 2875 joules of surge protection keep your equipment safe from even the harshest power spikes. Conveniently-spaced outlets and a 45-degree, angled space saver plug make the Smart Strip a friendly addition to your electronic systems.

A better write up from Grist.org:
Household gadgets often suck up electricity even when turned off. To stop these "vampires," you can plug your gizmos into a power strip that is easily turned off with the flip of a switch. The $40 Smart Strip takes this idea one step further with a feature geared toward computer and home-entertainment systems: when the device plugged into its "control" outlet is turned off (say, a TV), the Smart Strip cuts off the current flowing to peripheral devices (like a DVD player and VCR). That's smart, all right.

Customer Reviews:
Plug and Play
I highly recommend this product. It was easy to install. I'm able to shut off several devices that I used to leave constantly on by just shutting off my computer.

Great product at a great price
This vendor was fast at shipping and provided a great competitive price.

This thing is great! Effortlessly saves energy. Would have reduced usage 100% except for the devices in the "Always On" outlets. I highly recommend!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Simple Shoes

Made with sustainable materials like recycled car tires, hemp, bamboo, and PET (recycled plastics.) They have several different lines, including sneakers, sandals, and sweet little earth friendly ballet flats.


Friday, April 11, 2008

More Info on Indoor Composting

After talking with several of my friends about the Nature Mill Indoor Composter, I decided that more convincing, compelling reviews were needed to convince people that this is a fantastic invention.

Here are several posts, reviews, and ads that I found all over the web that all support me in my belief. (I did not find ANY that contradicted) The articles with the boxier, white Nature Mill are a few years older, and I think they refer to the older model, which has since been upgraded to something even better!

If you can't read the small type, please click on the picture to see it bigger.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A New Beginning

In a fast and furious turn of events, my husband and I have been reloacted to Cleveland, OH from Atlanta, GA. The move has brought many new things for us: four moves in two months (thank you relocation company and the tempoary housing nightmare) a new job for me (which is actually a new OLD job, but whose counting) new job possibilites for my huband, (yeah!) and a new house for the two of us. We have wanted to buy a home since we got married and this move has finally allowed that dream to come true. We are not IN the house yet, but stayed tuned for lots of information and updates to come about making this 86 year old gem GREEN!! I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Water, Water

By making just a few small changes to your daily routine, you can save a significant amount of water, which will help you save money and preserve water supplies for future generations.

Fix That Leak!

Challenge: Leaky faucets that drip at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water each year.

Solution: If you're unsure whether you have a leak, read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.

Challenge: A leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water every day.

Solution: To tell if your toilet has a leak, place a drop of food coloring in the tank; if the color shows in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak.

Shower Power

Challenge: A full bath tub requires about 70 gallons of water, while taking a five-minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons.

Solution: If you take a bath, stopper the drain immediately and adjust the temperature as you fill the tub.

Turn It Off!

Challenge: The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of two gallons per minute.

Solution: Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and at bedtime can save up to 8 gallons of water per day, which equals 240 gallons a month!

Water Wisely

Challenge: The typical single-family suburban household uses at least 30 percent of their water outdoors for irrigation. Some experts estimate that more than 50 percent of landscape water use goes to waste due to evaporation or runoff caused by overwatering!

Solution: Drip irrigation systems use between 20 to 50 percent less water than conventional in-ground sprinkler systems. They are also much more efficient than conventional sprinklers because no water is lost to wind, runoff, and evaporation. If your in-ground system uses 100,000 gallons annually, you could potentially save more than 200,000 gallons over the lifetime of a drip irrigation system if installed-that's a savings of at least $1,150!

Make It a Full Load

Challenge: The average washing machine about 41 gallons of water per load.

Solution: High-efficiency washing machines use less than 28 gallons of water per load. To achieve even greater savings, wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate load size selection on the washing machine.

Don't Flush Your Money Down the Drain!

Challenge: If your toilet is from 1992 or earlier, you probably have an inefficient model that uses between 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush.

Solution: New and improved high-efficiency models use less than 1.3 gallons per flush—that's at least 60 percent less than their older, less efficient counterparts. Retrofitting your house with high-efficiency toilets can save a family of four roughly $1,000 over the next 10 years without compromising performance.

*From http://www.epa.gov/watersense/water/simple.htm

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Top Ten: Saving the World

The 10 most important things to do to save the earth
These are hard things. Some of them VERY hard. But they give a sense of the kinds of fundamental changes that we will be required to make in order to create a sustainable society. And they can be goals toward which all of us can work.

Stop at two: The birth of another excessively consuming American adds a tremendous burden to the earth's life support systems. So stop at two children, or one, or none.
Live in a modest house: The super-sized American house consumes vast quantities of resources and energy. Think about what you really need for a satisfying life. Rehab an existing house before building new. And make your house as energy-efficient as possible.
Live close to what you need: Choose to live a "lower-mileage lifestyle" in a community where the necessities of everyday life can be obtained by walking, bicycling, and using transit.
Drive frugally: The production, operation, and maintenance of automobiles creates huge ecological impacts. So buy a fuel-efficient car and drive it only when necessary.
Eat low on the food chain: Meat production creates far more environmental impacts than the cultivation of grains, vegetables and fruits. So a vegetarian lifestyle can be healthier for you and for the earth. Also try to eat organically and regionally.
Transform work: Changing the practices of one corporation can influence billions of dollars of purchases and investment. It is vital for everyone to help harmonize the human economy with the earth's natural systems.
Buy with a conscience: Bargains are often based on exploitation. Consumer choices can support companies around the world that respect the environment and treat workers fairly.
Reduce, reuse, recycle: Remember that recycling is a last resort — something you do when you can't reduce your consumption in the first place. Especially remember to reduce your consumption of materials, such as gold and other scarce metals, that cause a lot of environmental destruction to produce.
Be an activist: Join in and support the work of organizations that are creating a society that makes it easier for people to do the above.
Have fun: You don't want to be a curmudgeon or a hermit. The only reason to do the above is to create a world that is happier and healthier.

(From Health and Home, http://www.ecocitycleveland.org/health/10-best.html)

The Top Ten: Reel Mowers

Top Ten Reasons to Consider a Reel Mower

10. Nostalgia: Getting back to basics. A simpler, more natural, peaceful lifestyle.

9. Big Interest: Young, old, urban, suburban, men, women. Environmentally aware. Lawn fanatics. Exercise enthusiasts. All income levels. Anyone and everyone with a patch of grass.

8. Easy to Use: Starts when you do (no rope pulling). No key to remember, no idle to adjust, no gas or oil to worry with. Lightweight, 19-34 pounds, reel mowers are easy to push, lift and store. You push; it cuts, every time.

7. Superior Cut: Better for lawn. No ripping or tearing; the clean, even, scissor-cut of a reel mower seals the grass blade, holding moisture and keeping out disease organisms. Yields a natural mulch by dispersing clippings in a fine spray (no clumping) that decomposes quickly. Left on the lawn, the clippings serve as a natural fertilizer for the grass.

6. Safer to Use: Reel mowers are noted for safety; they stop when you do and don't throw rocks or debris.

5. Low Purchase Price: All models sell for very attractive prices, especially when compared to the larger sums required to purchase powered units.

4. Better for You: One of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise; pushing a reel mower burns as many calories per hour as tennis, downhill skiing and low-impact aerobics (for an average 150 lb. Person, that's 400 to 450 calories.) Plus the yard work is done. Just be sure to check with your doctor if you have any health restrictions on exercising.

3. Low Maintenance: No engine means no tune-up / repairs, no gas, no oil, no spark plugs. Simply brush them off occasionally, spritz the blades with WD-40 and sharpen them every other season. (Yes, there's a DIY sharpening kit available too.)

2. Better for the Environment: No air pollution - no noise pollution, with everyone in tune to environmental advantages, reel mowers truly deliver; cutting grass the natural way.

1. Ideal for Small Lots: Less lawn = less mower needed.

Indoor Composting

I came across a really exciting new product today-- a kitchen composter, that actual composts IN YOUR KITCHEN! This handy little device stores your kitchen scraps, but instead of having to then lug the bucket out to a larger yard composter that you regularly have to feed and turn, this machine does it all for you within the actual product itself. It has an aerating mechanism that turns the scraps, and a heating element that helps break it all down into mulch. Once the mulch has been formed, it then drops down into a lower chamber for storage. You can continuously add scraps in, and about every two weeks a red light comes on that reminds you to empty the chamber. Really fantastic.

What I find so great about this product is that it makes composting much more accessible for people who aren't big gardeners, especially apartment dwellers. It doesn't take up a lot of room, and by composting your kitchen scraps you can GREATLY reduce your amount of household garbage.

Check out the website! There is a video and much more information. If you thought you might want to compost but never wanted to take on the "responsibility," this just MAY be the thing for you.